QUERI – Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

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Quality Improvement Methods

39. Quality Function Deployment

a. Definition: Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a used to focus the design of a new service or product on the needs of the customer or patient. QFD is applied to a wide variety of services to assure that quality is in the design at the onset. It is intended to shorten the time and effort needed for development by providing an efficient structure to the process. The needs to which the design should respond are described as "the voice of the customer" and it is a tool through which a team can collaborate. A matrix is developed representing the various aspects of the service. By specifying all the important aspects, and how they interrelate, a better quality design results.

b. Literature:

  • Keshtkaran, Ali, et al. "Applying Quality Function Deployment Model in Burn Unit Service Improvement." Journal of Burn Care & Research (2014).
  • Moores, B. M. "Radiation safety management in health care-The application of Quality Function Deployment." Radiography 12.4 (2006): 291-304.
  • Dijkstra, Lieuwe, and Hans van der Bij. "Quality function deployment in healthcare: Methods for meeting customer requirements in redesign and renewal." International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management 19.1 (2002): 67-89.

c. Example: Research has resulted in the possibility of a new service to patients. A hospital wants to implement this new service but the decision is based only on some general marketing research and opinions of the staff. The hospital has most of the necessary expertise and space to implement it but needs to develop a high quality, specific and effective plan. The hospital decides to use QFD to identify key aspects of the design of the service. As is often the case, the QFD information is summarized in a diagram (see below). Often these diagrams look like a house even though the components vary; hence the process is called a "house of quality". The diagram provides a visual way to describe the various attributes of the decision choices. The diagram can include requirements, quality attributes, importance, metrics and relationships.

Quality function deployment information in a diagram

d. Steps

1. Determine the service requirements at a relatively high level. This is to specify what the customer (patient) needs or at least the categories of requirements. This might be done using an Affinity Diagram (see Section 2)

2. For each requirement, determine the importance of each, perhaps with a score resulting from a questionnaire. These form the two sides of the "house" in the above diagram.

3. Add the technical requirements of the service being considered, quantifying where possible.

4. Include the relationships between the technical requirements and the customer requirements. This generally is the central matrix or body of the QFD diagram.

5. Consideration of the interrelationships between the technical requirements is then added indicating if the relationship is low medium or high. This becomes the triangular "roof" on the top of the House of Quality.

6. The base or foundation of the diagram is then various targets, benchmark values and priorities.